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Today: The stock market plunged amid concerns over the delta variant. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended universal mask wearing for all students older than 2 years old, and a federal judge decided not to block Indiana University’s vaccine requirement.
We’ll start with the delta strain:
Delta fears grip economy as cases jump across the country
The delta variant of the coronavirus is sweeping through the United States, raising the average number of cases to 30,000-per-day, crowding hospitals in areas with large number of unvaccinated people and spurring questions about the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.
Stocks tanked on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial average dropping 725 points after being down more than 900 points at one time.
It was the worst one-day performance in the Dow since last October, and followed losses in markets around the world as investor fears about how the delta virus might slow both the health and economic recovery took hold.
Divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated: Health officials have described the latest stage of the coronavirus as a pandemic of the unvaccinated while emphasizing that those who have had their shots are relatively safe.
Sten Vermund, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said he is “not particularly worried” about COVID-19 for himself, because he is fully vaccinated.
“What worries me is my fellow Americans who for a variety of reasons choose not to get vaccinated; they continue to be in harm’s way,” Vermund said.
Cases, deaths on the rise: While the 30,000 cases per day on average is more than double the 13,000 average at the end of June, that rate is still well below highs from last fall and earlier this year.
Still, deaths are also ticking back up, at around 240 per day.
Read more here.
Pediatric group recommends masks for students over 2 when schools reopen
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended on Monday that all students older than 2 years old wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, when schools reopen in the fall.
The leading pediatrics organization called for universal masking, noting that most school-aged children are not yet eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and many schools are not planning to track the vaccination status of students and staff.
“There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated,” Sara Bode, chairperson-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, said in a statement. “This is why it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19.”
Support for reopening: The AAP said, however, it “strongly recommends in-person learning,” adding that children face a higher risk of mental health issues and developmental setbacks if students do not return to classrooms.
The pediatrics group acknowledged that current research indicates reopening schools with safety precautions like masking “does not significantly increase community transmission.” But with variants like the delta strain spreading, the AAP noted transmission could increase.
Overall, the AAP says opening schools with effective safety precautions, including masking, is the right move.
Read more here.
CDC says to ‘avoid travel’ to UK amid rising COVID-19 cases
The CDC on Monday warned Americans to avoid any non-essential travel to the United Kingdom due to rapidly rising coronavirus cases.
The agency issued a “level 4” warning, the highest level, and recommends that if travel can’t be avoided, people should make sure they are vaccinated.
“Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” the advisory notes.
Separately, the State Department also issued its own level 4 “do not travel” warning.
COVID-19 in the U.K.: The warnings come at the same time as the U.K. government lifted most of the country’s remaining coronavirus restrictions. Face coverings are no longer required, and physical distancing rules and capacity restrictions are all lifted.
New cases have skyrocketed in the country in the past month, driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Cases topped 50,000 per day last week for the first time since January, and the seven-day moving average is almost 45,000 cases.
Read more here.
When one door closes, another border opens: Canada to open border for vaccinated Americans starting Aug. 9
Fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents will be allowed to enter Canada for non-essential travel beginning Aug. 9, Canadian government ministers announced Monday.
The Canadian government announced that those who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days will be allowed into the country for nonessential travel on that date.
The announcement marked the first step toward opening the country’s border for all international tourists after non-essential travel has been banned since March 2020. There are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers.
How to cross the border: Adults entering the country will need to present proof (in either English or French) that they’ve received a complete round of one of the vaccines approved for use in Canada. The government will only recognize vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
American tourists will still need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival, but they will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine and two post-arrival coronavirus tests.
Children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination, or a dependent child of any age who can’t be vaccinated, will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement as long as they travel with a parent or guardian and meet all public health requirements.
What’s next: The Canadian government said it plans on opening the nation’s borders to fully vaccinated travelers from all countries on Sept. 7, if conditions remain favorable.
Read more here.
Federal judge will not block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate
Indiana University’s vaccine requirement for students and employees will remain in place after a federal judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the policy.
Judge Damon Leichty of the Northern District of Indiana on Sunday denied the injunction request, following a lawsuit from eight students who argued the policy violated their constitutional rights and state law.
The decision means the school’s vaccine mandate will remain in place while the case is decided.
The lawsuit comes as vaccination rates have stagnated in many Republican-leaning states and counties, leading to new surges of coronavirus infections.
Indiana’s flagship public university announced in May that it would require its more than 100,000 students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
Novavax’s effort to vaccinate the world, from zero to not quite warp speed (Kaiser Health News)
How Delta is pushing the U.S. into a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic (Stat)
Southeast Asian countries struggle to contain a devastating third wave of COVID-19 (NPR)
State by state
Springfield mayor warns national audience that the COVID ‘surge is coming’ on ‘Face the Nation’ (Springfield News-Leader)
Arkansas governor’s vaccination tour reveals depths of distrust (Associated Press)
Rising share of coronavirus tests coming back positive in Texas fuels fears of another wave (Houston Public Media)
Op-eds in The Hill
Keep it local: How America can meet its vaccine challenge
Data reveal big opportunity to finish the vaccine job
The Democratic majority depends on slashing drug prices